You say “sugar” to refer to your loved ones, but there’s nothing affectionate about what too much of the sweet stuff will do to your body. You do well to cut back on this substance considering the rising rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
Why should you remove sugar from your diet? A 2014 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found an association between high sugar intake and more heart disease deaths. Perhaps their findings weren’t surprising, considering that your liver processes the sweet stuff the same way it does alcohol, converting all that excess energy to fat that can clog your arteries.
Sugar can also upset your body’s pH. This phenomenon explains one reason the substance is so problematic for your teeth. Your enamel can repair itself when you balance your body chemistry, but excess acidity dissolves the protective minerals in your enamel, leading to decay. Some researchers theorize that high acidity in the body could also increase cancer risks.
Excess sugar consumption also contributes to Type 2 diabetes risk. Approximately one in three Americans already live with prediabetes. If it advances to full-blown disease, their chances of heart and kidney disease significantly increase.
Check out this link to hear how cutting sugar from your diet can change your life.
However, it isn’t easy to remove this stuff from your diet. After all, humans have a sweet tooth of sorts in tastebud form, and manufacturers know this, adding more to sell their products. Here are five tips to slowly remove sugar from your diet.
5 Ways to Slowly Cut Sugar Out of Your Diet
You can still indulge in the occasional birthday cupcake. However, you can gently reduce your consumption using the following methods
1. Understand the Difference between “Naturally Occurring Sugar” and “Added Sugar”
Before you freak out and throw out everything sweet in your kitchen, take a moment to fully understand the official sugar recommendation and the difference between added sugar and naturally occurring sugar.
Naturally-occurring sugar: Fruits, veggies, and plain dairy products have naturally occurring sugar that shouldn’t overly concern you. Because fruits and veggies contain other digestion-slowing nutrients like fiber and healthy fats, your body doesn’t process the sugar as quickly as it would a cookie or a Twix bar. In other words, the sugar in apples and peppers won’t contribute to weight gain and diabetes like a soda will.
Added sugar: The FDA defines “added sugars” as all sugars that are added during the processing of foods. This includes sugars from syrups, honey, and concentrated fruit or vegetable juices
2. Find Alternatives to Sugar
Many natural substitutes have several advantages over sugar. Heres a few:
Low glycemic index, which means it won’t spike your blood sugar. It’s high in vitamin B-6, crucial for pregnant women, and it also contains folate and vitamin K.
A zero-calorie food and has a low glycemic index. You can use it the same way you would use an artificial sugar substitute — a single packet may be enough to add the desired hint of sweetness to your morning cup of joe.
Monk Fruit Extract
Monk fruit may be a healthy sugar substitute to try if you’re looking to restrict calories. You don’t need to use much since monk fruit extract is 250-300 times sweeter than sugar. According to the FDA, it’s also a zero-sugar, zero-calorie sweetener, with no harmful side effects. However, commercially available monk fruit extracts have all been processed to some extent and may contain other sugars or sweeteners, so make sure to check the label.
Dates are rich in fiber, minerals, and vitamins, so using date paste as a sweetener to your recipes can add more nutritional value to your diet than simply using regular sugar.
Do you turn to sugary pops because you can’t tolerate plain water? Give yourself a flavor and vitamin boost without adding any calories by making flavored fruit water. You can find specialty infusing pitchers, but any water bottle will do — although a screen does keep the watermelon seeds from sticking in your straw.
Crave that Carbonation? Try a no-sugar sparkling water!
3. Don’t Quit Cold Turkey.
Giving up all of your favorite things at once can make you feel deprived. However, there’s no need to give up everything — every little switch helps. If your Friday treat consists of a sugary frappuccino and a donut, substitute an egg-white bite or opt for a sugar-free latte. You don’t have to surrender both. Create both short, and long-term goals for yourself, taking it one step at a time.
4. Learn to Read Labels
You might recognize terms like “sucrose” and “glucose,” but what about “rapadura” or “panela?” Manufacturers have sneaky ways of labeling that can disguise how much of the sweet stuff their products contain. Some significant clues that an ingredient is an added sugar include:
- it has syrup (examples: corn syrup, rice syrup)
- the word ends in “-ose” (examples: fructose, sucrose, maltose, dextrose)
- “sugar” is in the name (examples: raw sugar, cane sugar, brown sugar, confectionary sugar)
- Other examples of added sugar include fruit nectars, concentrates of juices, honey, agave, and molasses.
- agave nectar
- brown sugar
- cane crystals
- cane sugar
- corn sweetener
- corn syrup
- crystalline fructose
- evaporated cane juice
- fruit juice concentrates
- high-fructose corn syrup
- invert sugar
- malt sugar
- malt syrup
- maple syrup
- raw sugar
5. Add Unique Flavors to Your Diet
Did you miss your tricycle once you took the training wheels off of your “big kids” bike? Of course not. Once you had an acceptable substitute, you didn’t crave the old inferior model.
You can evolve your tastebuds to enjoy the flavors of good-for-you foods. You don’t have to resort to living on green smoothies — honestly, the appearance is enough to turn the stomach of all but the most diehard health aficionados.
However, start experimenting when you cook by using exotic fruits and vegetables like cherimoya and African cucumber. It will take some trial and error, but once your tastebuds evolve, you’ll wonder how you ever tolerated all that junk.
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